Remember that paper published a while ago claiming evidence of precognition? I didn’t say anything about it, because I didn’t have anything much to say. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, Bayesian priors, and all that. You’ve heard it all before.
Here’s the thing. The right thing to do in this situation, as everyone knows, is for other scientists to try to replicate the result. Well, some did just that, tried to replicate the result, and couldn’t. It’s nice to see the system working, isn’t it? Well, it would be nice, except that the journal that published the original paper rejected their article, because they don’t publish replications of previous work. Ben Goldacre’s got the goods.
This is a structural problem with the way science is funded, disseminated, and rewarded. Even though everyone agrees that replication is essential in situations like these, it’s practically impossible to get a grant to merely replicate previous work, or to publish the results once you’ve done it. I don’t know what to do about that.
By the way, I’ve said this before, but let me say it again. In case you don’t know about Ben Goldacre, the great Guardian science writer and blogger, you should. He’s a national treasure. (Not my nation, unfortunately, but a national treasure nonetheless.)